When the children drifted in for their story one day they were all chattering about what their fathers had seen at the beach that morning. A shark had been sighted swimming in the shallows as the men had prepared their boats for fishing.
“It wasn’t Tutira was it?” asked Mahuiki.
“Tutira?” They all said, “What is a tutira shark?”
“It is not what but who. So I will tell you a story about Kawariki and Tutira.”
When he wasn’t working Tutira played with the other children. Tutira was sad that his play friends were given lessons of how to be leaders one day of their village but he only had jobs to do.
As he grew older Tutira had a special friend Kawariki, the daughter of Matakite a powerful medicine man. She too was being trained to be a future leader of their tribe like her father.
One day her father told Kawariki she had been promised to a man from a nearby tribe to strengthen the ties between the villages. So she was forbidden to see or talk to Tutira any more. Kawariki liked Tutira very much so she sent Tutira messages to meet him secretly at night. They would lie on their backs, hold hands and look up at the stars and talk of their dreams and so fell in love.
Kawariki refused to cooperate in the wedding preparations saying she would never marry a man she didn't love. Her father became suspicious and decided to keep a close eye on his daughter. One night, when Kawariki crept out of her whare and into the sand hills above the beach he followed her.
He found Kawariki and Tutira together and instantly cast a powerful spell. Kawariki screamed in horror as Tutira fell to the ground squirming in agony as his body darkened and took on the form of a fish, he then slithered into the sand hills. Kawariki tried to plead with her father to reverse the spell but Matakite ignored her and walked back to the village.
Kawariki looked for Tutira everywhere to no avail. So she sat and calmed her mind, asking for guidance from Tāne Mahuta the spirit of the woods and trees. Tāne Mahuta sent her a vision of Tutira trying to get to the sea. So running down to the beach she saw two eyes glowing dimly in the dark as he flopped about on the sand exhausted. As he was now a shark out of water he was dying, his eyes were clouding and his gills barely moved.
Kawariki grabbed Tutira by the tail and dragged him through over the sand towards the sea. She called on Tāne Mahuta to help her once more to give her strength to get him into the water. His eyes had turned grey and stared blankly ahead but his body was limp and lifeless.
Kawariki lay beside him in the shallows and held him in her arms crying, her tears falling onto the shark as she sang her song of love. Hinemoana a spirit of the ocean heard the despair in Kawariki's song and was moved by her grief. Hinemoana began a powerful oriori (magic lullaby) which she sent on a wave and upon reaching Kawariki filled her with magic and her salty tears slowly returned life to Tutira's body now moving slowly in the shallow water. Kawariki released him and he headed to deeper water and out to sea. Just before Tutira was disappeared he spoke to Kawariki in a hoarse voice. "When the new moon rises, wait on this shore and I will come back to you." Tutira turned and disappeared into the waves.
Meanwhile her father Matakite set the date for Kawariki’s wedding in the summer. Her future husband and many of his tribe would be travelling by waka (large canoe) filled with gifts and food to celebrate the event.
When the first new moon rose, Kawariki waited on the shore looking out to sea. She expected to see a shark’s dorsal fin coming towards her, but Tutira appeared from behind some rocks. He had changed back into the man she loved.
Kawariki and Tutira stayed together all night. When morning neared Tutira insisted that he had to leave, but Kawariki shook her head and held him tight. Tutira led Kawariki into shallow water and he explained that when Kawariki cried over him Hinemoana had filled her tears with magic. This magic gave him the ability to change back into his human form each month when the new moon rose; the one condition was that he returned to the sea by morning.
As the first rays of the new day began to colour the sky, the morning light changed Tutira's skin to the dark grey of a shark. Tutira and Kawariki vowed to meet again then he took on his shark form, thrashed his tail and glided through the shallow water. He then returned to the depths of the ocean and the world where all fish and sea creatures fled from him. As the new moon rose each month, Kawariki and Tutira met and strengthened their love for each other. As the wedding drew near, Kawariki had to tell Tutira of her approaching wedding. Tutira was unable to influence anything in Kawariki's life so with great sadness he returned to the ocean world knowing he might never see Kawariki again.
The day finally arrived for Kawariki's marriage, all the village went to welcome her new husband. The sea was calm, a perfect day for travelling by waka. When the visiting tribe were seen on the horizon steering their waka towards the beach her father Matakite stood and recited an incantation to guide their waka safely to land. But Hinemoana the ocean spirit was angry with him, she remembered how he had used magic without her permission when he cast his spell on Tutira. Hinemoana refused Matakite's request for safe passage and instead sent a huge wave rolling in from the ocean. The wave overturned the waka and the visitors were forced to cling to the overturned boat.
Tutira, who was patrolling the coast came to the rescue of those that were in danger. With his dorsal fin caught in the upturned waka, Tutira was able to pull the waka and the people clinging to it on to the shore. The people on shore stood in disbelief when they realized a shark had saved their visitors. Matakite the tohunga was silent and ashamed as his magic had failed.
Kawariki ran into the water and embraced the shark to the amazement of her tribe. With her people gathered around, Kawariki explained that this was Tutira, who had been changed into a shark by her father and that she would always love him dearly.
Both tribes watched in silence, Tutira thrashed his tail and turned to leave, but her father raised his hands and pleaded for him to stay.
Matakite then admitted his foolishness to Hinemoana, thanking her for her wisdom and teachings. He acknowledged Kawariki had the right to choose her husband. He then reversed his spell and Tutira was instantly changed back into human form.
Tutira still lay in the shallow water, his brown body tattooed with the dark red moko of a shark, a mark of his status as a revered son of the sea, which was a gift from Hinemoana.
Seeing such events all the villagers knew the gods favored a union between Tutira and Kawariki and they were married at once and celebrations lasted for many days.
They had many children all born with the distinctive red moko of a shark.
Mahuika then said "Even today people living close to the ocean like us may use this moko as a sign that they have descended from the ancestors Kawariki and Tutira,"
All the children both girls and boys were happy with the story and thanked Mahuika for telling it to them.